Remembering Ithaca Campus Shop Browning King

Previous Ivy Style features on Rowing Blazers triggered a memory of a boathouse named after a haberdasher that used to exist at the Cayuga inlet in Ithaca, New York. 

The Haskell Davidson Boathouse was built in 1973 and demolished in 2011. When the boathouse was dedicated in 1974, the Ithaca College crew was six years old. It was named the Haskell Davidson boathouse at the suggestion of crew coach Bob Tallman. Friends of Haskell Davidson and Ithaca crew raised the funds for the building. The college website describes Haskell Davidson as “an enthusiastic sportsman and Ithaca merchant, a quietly effective friend of generations of students.” 

Haskell Davidson was born on July 3, 1912. He joined the Sports Shop around 1929, spending 33 years there. A fire in 1962 gutted the first floor shop. Davidson would see this as an opportunity and buy the sister store Browning King from his boss David Sapperstone. Davidson would compete with his neighbor and former workmate at the Sports Shop, John Lewton. Davidson would run Browning King for 10 years before dying in 1973. Stuart Lewis, a retired Ithaca retail clothing merchant, recalled that Haskell “was an outgoing person and knew numerous people and had many friends, especially in the Cornell sports field.”

The Ithaca College crew program outgrew its old boathouse and now has a $2.6 million rowing center. The Robert B. Tallman Rowing Center is named after Ithaca’s coach from 1972-1979. Tallman was the Commodore of the Cornell varsisty light quad in 1941, and was the man who named the original boathouse after Davidson. 

Hometown haberdashers no longer have the influence they once did in their communities, yet the legacy of Haskell Davidson beats on even though he has been relegated to a boat bay, albeit a swanky one, in the new facility. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP 

11 Comments on "Remembering Ithaca Campus Shop Browning King"

  1. Richard E. Press | November 28, 2018 at 5:52 pm |

    James Campion Ice Rink in Hanover, NH another example of clothier honoraria.

  2. Canadian Trad | November 28, 2018 at 5:54 pm |

    Thanks, Christopher. It’s always fun to lean about these local legends.

  3. Go Bombers!

  4. Makes me really old. I had no idea that Ithaca College even had a crew.
    They didn’t when I graduated from Cornell in ’62.
    At the time, Crew was the most prestigious sport . One
    of my roommates was a coxswain and a classmate was stroke
    on the Gold Medal US Eight in the 1964 Olympics. As for the references
    to men’s clothing shops in Ithaca at the time, John Lewton was IMHO,
    the very best…and the most expensive.

  5. Old School Tie | November 29, 2018 at 7:21 am |

    Those little illustrations are very cool. I found a polo shirt just like that last year, knitted with a waistband, made in Barcelona by one of the companies that fabricates Lacoste polos. One colour only though, and only 30 made, although I cannot confirm whether that is per size or in total.

  6. How easy it was back then for Joe College to dress well.

  7. My last comment was unintentionally addressed to Roger Sack; it was intended for other readers.
    Mea culpa.

  8. Christopher Sharp | November 30, 2018 at 9:22 am |

    Mr. Sack contributed to the John Lewton piece.

  9. Jacob J Wood | January 22, 2019 at 10:24 am |

    Thank you for this article, being the grandson of Haskell Davidson, and former IC rower(class of 1990).

  10. ibrahim Arch | January 3, 2020 at 11:07 pm |

    Right after you brother Jacob! Very proud of the article and to have some insight into my grandfather’s merchant background! Seems like I have inherited some of his ways!

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